VIRGIN ZOOMPASS

Virgin Mobile Canada has joined the Zoompass network to enable its customers to transfer cash to each other. Customers can also make store purchases and conduct Internet transactions using the balance of their Zoompass account with the “Zoompass Prepaid MasterCard.” Virgin Mobile Canada customers can send money to anyone belonging to a participating Canadian wireless carrier, even if the recipient doesn’t have their own Zoompass account yet. People are instantly notified on their phone when they receive money and are asked to register at www.zoompass.com. Virgin Mobile phones are available at more than 4,000 locations with top-up cards available at more than 10,000 locations nationally. EnStream, which owns Zoompass, is a joint venture company owned by Canada’s Bell Mobility, Rogers Communications Inc., and TELUS Corporation.

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NCR Expands Blockbuster Express Kiosks

NCR will deploy the “Blockbuster Express” DVD rental kiosk in New
England-based Big Y grocery stores. No membership is required to rent a
DVD from Blockbuster Express, customers simply swipe their credit card
and are charged $1 per night until they return the DVD, which can then
can be returned at any Blockbuster
Express kiosk, not just the kiosk where they normally rent. NCR expects
to invest as much as $60 million in 2009 to build out its
DVD-rental kiosk operations. The company expects to deploy more than
2,500 kiosks in 2009 for a total of 10,000 kiosks by mid-year 2010.

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GLOBAL BUYING POWER

Comparing the purchasing power in 73 cities around the globe throughout
March and April, research shows New York, Oslo, Geneva and Tokyo as the
world’s most expensive cities. Based on a the same standardized basket
of 122 goods/services and rent prices used to measure the more expensive
global cities, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Delhi and Mumbai were found as the
most affordable. Employees in Zurich and Geneva, followed by Copenhagen
and New York, have the highest gross wages. Employees in Delhi, Manila,
Jakarta and Mumbai earns less than one-fifteenth of Swiss hourly wages
after taxes. This research, according to UBS’s “Prices and Earnings”
study, also found purchasing power of wages afforded an average
wage-earner in Zurich and New York to buy a nano from an Apple store
after nine hours of work while workers in Mumbai need to work 20
nine-hour days to purchase the same exact product. The implementation of
this specific, highly uniform product available everywhere with the same
quality clearly illustrates the differences in employee purchasing power
around the world. Additional UBS findings show the longest working hours
were seen in Asia and the Middle East, averaging 2,119 and 2,063 hours
per year respectively; 2,373 hours per year Cairo, the most in any
surveyed city; and the least were worked in Lyon, France with only 1,582
annual hours worked per employee.

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Nordstrom Renews Fifth Third Processing

OH-based Fifth Third Processing Solutions has extended merchant
processing services with Les Schwab Tire Centers and Nordstrom. Les
Schwab Tire Centers, among the leading independent tire dealers in the
United States with more than 7,000 employees & 400 store locations
throughout the West, has renewed its credit card processing agreement.
Nordstrom, among the nation’s leading fashion specialty retailers with
176 U.S. stores located in 28 states, has renewed both its credit and
debit card processing agreement with the processor. Fifth Third was just
awarded the MasterCard Worldwide “Best in Class” Gold Award for the
second consecutive year thanks to its excellence in operational
achievements. Fifth Third Bancorp is a diversified financial services
company with $116 billion in assets and operates 16 affiliates with
1,307 full-service Banking Centers(Cardflash Library 8/26/2009).

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CITI VIRTUAL CARD

Citi has introduced a new service for institutions that generates unique virtual card numbers for transactions, allowing administrators to dynamically set spending and reconciliation controls on each virtual card account. The new multicurrency “Citi Virtual Card Accounts” service is an electronic solution for post-invoice payments and card-not-present transactions made via the Internet, phone, or mail order. It also complements an organization’s existing commercial card program. Citi has teamed with MasterCard to integrate their “inControl” virtual card platform into its core commercial cards processing systems. Citi’s “Virtual Card Account” solution, which extends Citi’s “Procure to Pay” suite, is available globally, with local currency issuance and settlement in nearly 50 countries.

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RBS & IRS

The IRS has signed a contract with the Royal Bank of Scotland to provide electronic payment services for individual and business U.S. taxes. RBS WorldPay and its partner Value Payment Systems will begin the multi-year contract to process tax payments on January 1st. Besides facilitating tax payments via payUSAtax.com, users will be able to schedule automated payments and set future payment e-mail reminders. RBS WorldPay and VPS will enable individuals to pay 1040, 1040ES, 1040X, Installment Agreements, 4868, 5329 and Trust Fund Recovery Penalties. Businesses will be able to pay 940, 941, 943, 944, 945, 1065 and 1041 taxes. Value Payment Systems provides electronic payment products and services to various industries including government and property management.

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Fandango Joins Citi’s ThankYou Network

Citi’s “ThankYou Network” loyalty program has made available its latest
rewards incentive with $25 and $50 electronic movie gift certificates
from the Fandango movie website to its more than 13 million members.
Redeemable immediately, the electronic movie gift certificates from
Fandango build on ThankYou Network’s collection of available rewards
offering expedited shipping options, travel reservations powered by
Expedia, gift cards, cash or credits and Citi Pre-Paid cards.
Additionally, Customized rewards can be redeemed for virtually anything
with the “Your Wish Fulfilled,” program, even mortgage payments.
“ThankYou” Members also earn points by booking eligible travel at
Expedia or by shopping through the “ThankYou Bonus Center” online
shopping mall of more than 400 retailers.

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UAL Expands its Cash-Free Environment

Introducing its “EasyPurchase” initiative, United Airlines is to accept
only payment cards for most onboard purchases during trans-Atlantic
flights and flights to and from Brazil and Argentina, effective
September 2. To speed cabin service, provide receipts and increase
efficiency, cash will no longer be accepted onboard these flights,
except for duty-free purchases. The policy is already effective on
flights within the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America and
the Caribbean. “United Mileage Plus” Chase Visa cardholders will earn 10
miles for every dollar spent on in-flight purchases. Those who apply and
are approved for the card using the onboard application will earn 30,000
Mileage Plus bonus miles and a $100 United discount travel certificate
after their first purchase.

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CC Accounts Slide After Peaking Last Year

Since the start of the recession the number of Visa and MasterCard credit card accounts has dropped by at least 40 million in the U.S. and could exceed 80 million once final second quarter data are released. The number of Visa and MasterCard credit card accounts peaked at 496 million one year ago. At the end of the first quarter the number had fallen to 446 million. MasterCard reports that its credit card accounts declined from 206 million in 1Q/09 to 184 million at mid-year. Visa reported that its credit card accounts dropped from 258 million in 4Q/08 to 240 million in 1Q/09. (Visa will release official Q2 figures in late October.) According to CardData, the 9% drop through the first quarter and MasterCard’s second quarter figures, projects to 404 million credit card accounts at mid-year or an 18% year-on-year decline.

CREDIT CARD ACCOUNTS
(Visa and MasterCard)
1Q/08: 490 million
2Q/08: 496 million
3Q/08: 492 million
4Q/08: 479 million
1Q/09: 446 million
2Q/09: 404 million (projected)
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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ShieldSafe Introduces America Protected

Identity protection provider ShieldSafe has launched the “America
Protected” solution to help
consumers protect themselves from identity theft at no charge.
ShieldSafe helps individuals
and their entire family protect themselves with the ShieldSafe fraud
alert quick link and the ShieldSafe credit report quick link. The fraud
alert quick link directs individuals to the initial 90-day fraud alert
form. Once this form is filled out, an individual is proactively
protected for 90 days with a fraud alert. An individual must fill out
this simple form every 90 days in order to keep the fraud alert active.
ShieldSafe then emails the individual every 90 days to remind them to
fill out this form to remain protected. The credit report quick link
directs individuals to the free credit report link where individuals can
view their credit report immediately. ShieldSafe then emails the
individual every 12 months with the credit report quick link to remind
them to get their free credit report.

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INTERCHANGE REGS

The Reserve Bank of Australia’s Payments System Board has ruled to keep regulating interchange fees on credit card and EFTPOS transactions. The Board says there is still not enough competition or assurances that future interchange fees would not rise. In September, the Board indicated that it would be prepared to step back from interchange regulation if industry participants took sufficient steps to reduce the risk that interchange fees would rise in the absence of regulation. If sufficient progress was not made by August, interchange regulation would be retained, with the Board proposing that the benchmark for credit card interchange fees be reduced to 30 basis points. The Board has now concluded that, although progress has been made in both these areas, it is not yet sufficient to warrant a decision to step back from interchange regulation. While the Board noted the establishment of EFTPOS Payments Australia and the renewed commitment to develop an online payments system (the “MAMBO” project), it does not believe that these initiatives have yet reached the point where they will exert significant competitive pressure on interchange fees, though such a position may well be reached over time.

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